The new Nigerian economy: Abuja turns to agriculture and minerals
For decades, Nigeria's economy has been based on oil. The government is now moving away from its black gold dependence to open its economy up to diversification.
The country's economic recovery plan identifies six priority sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, and solid minerals, including iron, gold and coal.
Tonye Cole, co-founder and CEO of the Sahara Group, told the New Nigerian Economy panel that there are three major elements for successful diversification. "We must free the potential, free the diaspora, and allow the free flow of ideas. Nigeria should allow its states to be autonomous. We have a growing young population with huge talents but who are leaving. They have to come back and invest in the country," he said.
Bayelsa State Governor Sériake Henry Dickson shared his policy of integrating young people into agriculture, saying the sector is the best provider of jobs. "We have trained our people in aquaculture, created an eco-industrial park, set up an investment agency, and facilitated the acquisition of land titles. The federal authorities have given us their support so that now our state has nothing to envy Abuja and Lagos for," he said.
Nigeria will continue to invest in hydrocarbons but will shift the focus to refining and the production of gas and electricity.
"Diversifying the economy also means improving government benefits and the fight against corruption and hunger. The government has also launched an industrialisation process in Nigeria in which it encourages the involvement of the private sector, in order to reduce the oil sector share of GDP," said Yewande Sadiku, Chief Executive Director of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.
Nigeria is expected to achieve 3.5% growth this year and reduce its inflation level to 12.5% from 15% in 2017. This performance would consolidate the ECOWAS zone's biggest economy which contributes about 75% of its GDP.